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Museum plans on hold until lease obtained from city

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 4, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A proposed NWT mining and geological museum at the former Giant Mine site is waiting on a land lease and the mine's remediation review plan before organizers can move forward with fundraising and construction.

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Ryan Silke, a director with the NWT Mine Heritage Society, stands in front of the future site of the NWT Mining and Geological Museum at Giant Mine. - NNSL file photo

The NWT Mining Heritage Society wants to put the museum inside the former Giant Mine recreation hall, a building dating back to the mid-1950s. The building was where mine staff convened for food, movie screenings and to shoot pool.

But the society, which is spearheading the project, is waiting for the land lease for the building from the city, said the society's president Walt Humphries.

"It's hard to raise money on a building unless you have the (land) lease to it," he said, adding the society expects the process to be completed in a couple of months.

It is also tracking the Giant Mine remediation and cleanup plan, under environmental assessment with the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, said Ryan Silke, a director with the society.

Silke said fundraising for the project, estimated at $1.2 million continues, but declined to say how much has been raised to date. He added money raised has been spent on specific projects along the way, including $100,000 to replace the hall's roof some three years ago.

"We're sort of in a holding pattern at the moment but we're still hopeful that we can get a land lease and that we can raise the necessary money to do renovations," he said.

"We're working on things stage by stage and it will be quite a bit more to get the thing fully finished but we're doing what we can with the money that we have."

The museum will chronicle the mining past of both the GNWT and Nunavut prior to separation.

The museum will feature mineral exhibits and archival photos, many of which were collected by Silke, a former resident of Con Mine where his father worked as a geologist for 25 years.

"The story of mining in Yellowknife and the territories is really culturally important and we just want to showcase that in whatever way possible," said Silke. "So we'll have exhibits of all types, not only mining but the history of Yellowknife itself and the cultural-societal side of what living in a mining town was like."

Humphries said it's "very likely" the museum will see the light of day within the next two to three years.

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